The Vegas Golden Knights were very busy on the first day of the NHL’s free agency.
Across the six signings Vegas spent a total of $25.4 million, with the majority being allocated to the returning Alec Martinez. Before we grade all of the signings, its important to note the Golden Knights are projected to be over the salary cap and still have to sign restricted free agent Nolan Patrick and prospect Dylan Coghlan.
Onto the grading!
Alec Martinez, D
Three year, $15.75 million deal ($5.25 million AAV)
The fit between the Golden Knights and Martinez was picture perfect last season. So much so that it was almost inevitable they would put together an extension. The three year extension will take Martinez to the age of 37, a time when most players start slowing down. But with a move like this, Vegas only needs him to be good until they win; and they plan to win sooner than later.
He appeared in 53 regular season games with the Golden Knights last season, tallying 9 goals and 23 assists. He also added 4 goals and 2 assists in 19 playoff games. Martinez is the defensive anchor on Vegas’ back end and has played well alongside Alex Pietrangelo. Vegas and their fans loved the passion and attitude Martinez showed during his tenure there. Especially in in the playoffs last season, when Martinez risked playing on a broken foot before heading to free agency.
The Golden Knights were able to keep their D-core intact through free agency. More importantly, head coach Pete DeBoer will not have to worry about integrating Martinez to the lineup. It’s safe to say he knows his way around the team.
Laurent Brossoit, G
Two year, $4,650,000 million deal ($2,325 million AAV)
The 28-year-old Laurent Brossoit will have some mighty big shoes to fill in Vegas. He will play the backup role to Robin Lehner, the former platoon mate of the recently traded, Marc-Andre Fleury. He appeared in 14 games for the Winnipeg Jets during the 2020-21 season, finished with a 6-6-0 record and a 2.42 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. In three seasons with Winnipeg, he went 25-19-3 with a 2.75 GAA and had a .913 save percentage.
He only has 82 NHL games under his belt so still relatively young but has shown some stability at a high level. Brossoit was able to thrive behind Vezina calibre net minder Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg. It will be interesting to see how he plays behind and alongside Lehner now that Lehner is the number one starter in Vegas. The games could be split 61/21, which would be a career highs for the former Jet.
Brossoit has shown flashes of brilliance while also showing in-consistencies, to the degree that he has a good season and follows it up with a mediocre one. That’s a bit of a concerning pattern for the Golden Knights, considering he had a strong season last year.
Mattias Janmark, C
One year, $2 million deal
Just like Martinez, Mattias Janmark is a mid-season acquisition that was extended come the off-season.
Janmark did not contribute a lot during the regular season (1 G, 4 A in 15 games) but made up for it come playoff time. During the conference finals run, Janmark posted eight points (4 G, 4 A) in 16 games, including a hat trick performance against the Minnesota Wild in Game 7 of that first round series.
He has some good hockey IQ and puck skills which shows itself the most on zone entries and quick little passes. His speed played well in Vegas and helped integrate him into the lineup easier. His special teams dependability was also invaluable, with him playing both the power play and penalty kill for the Golden Knights.
General Manager Kelly McCrimmon opted to stick with familiarity for depth forwards instead of bringing a new face into the organization with this move. At $2 million it’s a relatively painless deal as long as Janmark can increase his production from last season.
Patrick Brown, C
Two year, $1,500,000 million deal ($750,000 AAV)
The 29-year-old Patrick Brown appeared in five games for the Golden Knights last season and played in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 2 goals. Prior to the 2020-21 season, Brown was named the first captain in Henderson Silver Knights history. (Vegas’ AHL team). He appeared in nine games for Henderson and finished with eight points (3 G, 5 A) to go with four penalty minutes.
Brown will likely fill a depth role for the team down the middle and will remain in the AHL. Look to him to fill in come injury troubles for Vegas. The move doesn’t justify a super high grade because of the lack of affecting the NHL club.
Sven Baertschi and Gage Quinney, Forwards
One year deals, $750,000
Both Sven Baertschi and Gage Quinney are the kind of depth signings the Golden Knights need if they want to make another deep cup run. Neither name will jump off the page but could fill a hole down the stretch if need be, for league minimum to boot,
The 28-year-old Baertschi is a long ways away from being picked 13th overall, something he has yet to live up to. With 66 goals and 138 points in 291 career games, the points haven’t come as easy as they did with the WHL”s Portland Winterhawks. He looks to bounce back and have a solid season to capitalize on come free agency next off-season.
A career AHL-er, Quinney is joining his third organization in three seasons. He is not a big point guy and may not even make an appearance with the Golden Knights this season. He has limited familiarity with the Nation Hockey League as he recorded his first NHL point, an assist, in Anaheim on February 23rd, 2020.
Again, depth signings are hard to grade as they could not even impact the NHL club. But when Vegas has a hole to fill, it’s these moves that will either sink or swim the team.
Evgenii Dadanov Trade
It was not all free agent signings on Wednesday as GM McCrimmon also swung a trade deal to keep things fresh. The Golden Knights acquired forward Evgenii Dadanov from the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Nick Holden and a 3rd round draft pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft (previously belonging to the Vancouver Canucks).
The 32-year-old Dadanov appeared in 55 games last season for the Senators and had 13 goals and 20 points for the young squad. He posted 25 or more goals in three consecutive seasons with the Florida Panthers (2017-20). Dadonov most glaringly only contributed 1 point on the power play, something he was brought in to strengthen. He was relegated to a bottom six role for most of the season.
The hope for Vegas is he can return to that 25 goal potential and can help deepen an already strong lineup. Dadanov has two more seasons at the AAV of $5 million, a cap hit he has to live up to in Vegas as they don’t have a lot of room to play with.
Going the other way, the 34-year-old Holden has been a depth defensemen for Vegas and was obviously an expendable cap hit. He has one more year at $1.7 million and just quickly lost his spot at regular playing time in Vegas. He joins a young Senators core that could benefit from having a 500 gamer playing alongside them.
After a disappointing exit in last years playoffs, the Golden Knights and GM McCrimmon have made it clear they will not rest on their laurels. Even though they have made the playoffs every season since joining the NHL in 2017, Vegas has remained aggressive in trying to plug any and all holes on their roster.
These moves may have to continue or become more extreme if the Golden Knights want to fill the massive hole in their trophy case.
But this is a great start to another likely strong playoff run for Vegas.
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